Dear SFUFA members:
A very Happy New Year to you all. We hope that you found some time over the break to be with such loved ones as you could given the ongoing pandemic, and to rest and recharge after a very challenging year.
This bulletin provides brief updates on a few matters:
1. COVID and face to face teaching;
2. workload impact of COVID adjustments;
3. administrative changes to endowments and major grants;
4. new VP People, Equity, Inclusion;
5. bargaining preparation and bargaining survey
COVID and Face to Face Teaching:
As you will be aware, yesterday the Provost confirmed that SFU intends to return to face to face teaching as of January 24th. We were not advised in advance of this decision, let alone consulted in any way, and so find ourselves with the same kinds of questions that many of you will be asking. At this moment, however, we have little information we can provide on what, if anything, the University Administration intends to do to minimize the risks of exposure.
Workload and impact of COVID adjustments:
SFUFA first sought to intitate discussion with SFU regarding the impact of COVID adjustments on workload in the first few months of the pandemic. For some 18 months we have continued to present evidence of the various ways that faculty workload, and faculty health and wellness, have been affected, including the survey data and subsequent report we prepared in the Fall – available at: https://www.sfufa.ca/dual-mode-teaching-survey/
The University Administration has now made clear to us that it is not interested in discussing any compensation for the extra work faculty have undertaken; rather SFU continues to simply send messages asking for continued flexibility and continued extra efforts to manage the uncertainties and increased demands of this time.
SFUFA has little legal recourse in a situation such as this. Faculty workloads are largely flexible (i.e. self-directed) outside of teaching assignments, and so while the Administration relies on the goodwill of faculty members and our concern for students to navigate the increased demands, very little of this work is formally “assigned”. We know that you have assumed, and continue to take on, additional responsibilities and prepare for various contingencies so as to serve and support students. And we had hoped the University would also recognize this with something other than yet another “thank you” email with the continued presumption that faculty will voluntarily work in excess of the 37.5 hours per week that SFU officially recognizes. To date, however, the official response has been a general silence, and an occassional “not interested”, when pressed.
Administrative Changes to Endowments and Major Grants:
Over the past few years, the Association has recieved numerous complaints from members regarding administrative interference with and/ or changes to the terms of endowments, Research Chair supports, and terms governing major grants. As some of these matters are actively being worked on either informally or through formal dispute resolution procedures, we cannot provide details at this time. But the issues range from steps that weaken the critical wall between donors and academic decision-making, rescinding or reduction of stipends and other supports for Chair-holders, and increased administrative interference in the ways that major grants can be spent, regardless of the terms set by granting agencies themselves. We advise you all to be attentive to the terms and conditions associated with endownments, Chairships, and major grants, and encourage any faculty members who have experienced interference with or unilateral ammendment of such funds to contact us.
New VP PEI (People, Equity, Inclusion):
SFU has finally announced that its new VP PEI position has been filled. The Vice President People, Equity and Inclusion will likely have significant responsibilties related to faculty, as SFU moves administration of many faculty affairs from the portfolio of the VP Academic to this updated VP HR portfolio. The University has provided little information as to how exactly our – and your – relationship with SFU’s administrative structure might change as a result of this restructuring, but we hope to soon be invited to discuss what is planned. In the meantime, we offer a warm welcome to Dr. Yabome Gilpin-Jackson, and look forward to building a strong, collegial, and productive relationship that supports both her vision for SFU and the ever-evolving needs of faculty members.
Bargaining Preparation and Bargaining Survey:
As mentioned in previous bulletins, SFUFA is preparing for the upcoming round of collective bargaining, expected to begin in late Spring. Our Bargaining Advisory Committee has been struck, and will soon be developing a bargaining survey that will be distributed to all members as we seek to set priorities for this round of negotiations. More detailed bulletins on specific issues related to bargaining will be forthcoming, and the survey will, we hope, be sent to all members within the next month or so. Please do watch for it, and provide your feedback so that our bargaining priorities can reflect the real needs of faculty members. Finally, if you are interested in joining the Bargaining Advisory Committee and assisting with the development of the survey and turning the resulting priorities into concrete proposals, please write to our Executive Director, Brian Green, at [email protected]
2022 promises to be a year of yet more challenges. We look forward to working with all of you to respond to those with the commitment, dedication and creativity that imbues all of the work that faculty do.